Wildlife photograph from giraffe

How to become a wildlife photographer

Is it time for a career switch, or you just want to try out a new hobby? Wouldn’t it be great if I showed you how to become a professional wildlife photographer? A job where you can travel the world and photograph natures most beautiful organisms.

Is it just a dream or can you make it a reality? Read on because I will give you 6 good tips to improve your wildlife photography!

How to start wildlife photography

A wildlife photographer is not something you become overnight. You need a lot of practice and patience. Obviously, it is important that you like animals. But you should also be willing to go out of your comfort zone for them. With this I mean you are willing to wait some hours just for that perfect shot.

A lot of people don’t realize what is behind the picture they see. Most of the time there is a lot of work put into it. With other words passion and patience are a must, passion for photography is a pre.

To learn wildlife photography it takes a lot of time. First of all, you need to learn to control your camera, it may seem hard at first but it is not that big of a deal. Second, you need to learn to see the picture.

You need to be able to know what kind of composition works and what doesn’t. A big part of getting an eye for photography is just by doing, another part is by learning to find the right composition.

As a wildlife photographer, it is important to learn to adjust fast. If a setting changes then you need to be able to go with the flow and set up your shot over and over again. The key to this is practiced, practice and practice.

Investing in good photography gear

It is no question that wildlife photography can be an expensive hobby. However, if you are a complete beginner you will be surprised at how you can actually find budget-friendly equipment that works great to start with!

In my opinion, the most important piece of gear for wildlife photography should be the lens. It is the piece where you can clearly separate your camera from a regular phone for example.

There are a lot of other tools to step up your wildlife photography game. With drones being quite cheap nowadays it’s a great way to use them in your advantage.

I personally use the DJI spark because it is a small compact drone and very lightweight. The quality of the camera is also outstanding so it is not only good for spotting animals it is also great for filming while you’re out there!

Last, in the gear section, I want to talk about equipment that keeps you safe and comfortable. With this, I mean clothing and camping equipment. Recently I bought a good jacket from Fjallraven, it is just incredible how much more comfortable I feel when I invest in good outdoor gear.

Gear for a wildlife photographer
Be prepared for any circumstance

Practice your wildlife photography

once you think you get what it takes to be a photographer it is time to practice. “So is it necessary to go into the woods for a year?” No, there is actually a lot you can do without having to go into the wilderness.

Try to make some photo’s from your cat, dog or whatever animal you have in your surroundings. It can be quite a challenge and fun to do. Maybe try out some macro photography with macro tubes. Find some insects, birds whatever. Good thing that our planet has life everywhere.

Once you got comfortable with your camera and equipment and you did some research its time to hit the road. Or in this case, go off-road. Search up what for wildlife there is in your area and set your goal on something.

Take everything with you and start walking, looking for your target. If you found what you were looking for you will feel good and motivated, congratulations! The key is to be as stealth as possible, think like a hunter. The great thing about wildlife photography is that it’s just you and nature.

How to make a wildlife photography portfolio

Now that you have some equipment and experience it is time to take your wildlife photography career to the next step. Put all the photo’s you made in a portfolio. It is important that it contains your best work. Here quality over quantity is really key! Make a website where you tell a bit about yourself and where you present your portfolio.

My advice if you are not a web developer is to use a WordPress site. It does not have to be super professional just put the focus on the pictures you made. Make a social media page where you share your works. Instagram, for example, is a great platform to get started.

Sell your photo’s

Maybe you can make some sales on your social media platforms or someone finds your site. That’s great but the best way to really get a lot of sales would be to sell your pictures on stock websites. Shutterstock is a great example and if your photos are good enough you can have a look at 500px. This is a website where you can buy and sell really high-quality photos.

How to take action

Nobody just stumbles upon a wildlife photographer. You need to let the people know you are out there. If you believe that your photos are good enough to email a magazine, do it! Maybe they want to sponsor you. Send a message to National geographic showing them your photo’s.

Follow some wildlife photographers on Instagram and connect with them. Those things are important because this will get your name around in the world of photography. It’s not easy to earn money as a photographer but there definitely is a way, you just have to get out there.

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